There are no words to describe the events of this weekend...but I will try. My husband's grandfather has suffered for many years with dementia and Parkinson's disease. He has been faithfully cared for by his wife and daughters, and even now, as he was on the brink of passing from this life into the presence of God, he was at home surrounded by three of the women in this world who love him most.
I've never known this man, my husband's grandfather. I met him about four years ago, and even then his mental state was somewhat diminished. The last memory I have of Granddaddy is last Christmas when he was still able to sit at the kitchen table and laugh with the family. We didn't know if he knew what he was laughing about or not, but his presence was an obvious delight to all of us around him. This is the memory I want to remember for the rest of my life. For this reason I couldn't bring myself to visit him in his room when we arrived on Friday morning.
As much as I would have loved to sit in his room with him and his daughters, wife, and grandson, I couldn't bring myself to go in there. So I spent much of Friday sitting a few feet away from his room, and I was honored to get to observe his family caring for him, and ushering him out of this world and into the next. I was, as the cliche says, "a fly on the wall."
One of his daughters told him probably a hundred times or more how much she loves him. She told him what a wonderful daddy he is, how special he is, and how much he is loved. It broke my heart, and made me wonder why some people (not this family) wait until the end of life to express these tender thoughts? Daddy, if you're reading this, I love you! You are wonderful and I will love you until the day I die. (And in case you don't read this, I'll tell you the next time I talk to you!)
My husband's mother spent a good part of the evening singing hymns to her daddy. He always loved to hear her sing, and I think her singing tonight was a comfort to all of us who could hear her soft voice. The words of the old hymns are so full of meaning, and sometimes when we are grieving, when we're tired and anxious, words fail to come. But the glorious truths that have stood the test of time remain. How our Lord must delight in the praises of His people, even in their darkest hour.
When my husband and I left late Friday night, we both knew it may be the last time to see his Granddaddy on this earth. The next morning, at 10:02 Saturday morning, he went to be with the Lord.
David's mom told us later of his quiet, peaceful passing. The three women (two of Granddaddy's daughters, and his beloved wife) were sitting with him, and the sky grew cloudy just as Granddaddy breathed his last breath. Just a moment later a strong wind made its way around the house, and through the open window, and with that wind, he was gone. His wife, observing the swift change in weather, noted wisely, "It is a dark day when he leaves this earth." Moments later it began to rain, but only briefly, for within minutes the sun was shining again. David's aunt insightfully and poetically captured the tenderness of that moment, saying, "It is a dark day when Daddy leaves us, and with the wind his spirit is taken away. The rain, like tears fall, but the sun shines agains."
Granddaddy's passing was not a surprise to this family, yet we all grieve for the life that is no longer with us. But the women in this family are strong, and while they have shed countless tears for their father, all of them have the promise of being united with him someday. In death there is new life. In grief there is rejoicing. Through tears there is laughter. All a perfect example of the promise in Revelation 7:17, "The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes."